Haifa’s Coexistence is Tested by Politics During Elections

To see the raw energy of Brazil, it’s best to visit it during a World Cup. To understand something about the head-spinning mosaic that is the Israeli society, it’s worth coming here during elections. That’s when the sectarian, religious and socio-economic contradictions play out visibly before your eyes. Haifa, the most diverse of Israel’s cities, is the perfect place to watch the people and parties engaging in a public battle. Coming back to Israel to visit my family and friends after 3 years of absence, I had a chance to watch it all from up close during the run-up to April’s general elections to Knesset.

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Dear Expat, So Where is Your Home?

Ever since we left our familiar life in Israel, and moved to the Аmerican continent, we haven’t stayed long in one place. Six months living in Vancouver, five months in Mexico, two months in the heat and rain of Nicaragua and Costa Rica, four months in Colombia, followed by Ecuador and Peru. One of the things I have been enjoying most about this nomadic lifestyle is the sense of living in the present. Gone are the days of planning holidays, vacations, next career steps. In a few days we’ll pack our bags again and head to Chile. How long are we going to stay there? I don’t know, and that’s what I love about it. Continue reading “Dear Expat, So Where is Your Home?”

How Leaving Home Awakened Me To What I Missed All These Years

Last Saturday, as usual for Saturdays, I took my son to my parents home. We had lunch consisting of mashed potatoes and meat cutlets – the staple dishes in my parents’ Russian cuisine. My dad read a couple of children books to Ayan. My mom reminded me of my commitments the next week and worried that I don’t exercise enough. All as usual. The same familial ritual that occurred hundreds of time before. But something was different. I wasn’t in a hurry. As a matter of fact, I wanted to stay longer. Continue reading “How Leaving Home Awakened Me To What I Missed All These Years”

Mar Saba Monastery, Another Middle East Site You Must See Before You Die

Most tourists visiting Israel don’t know about it. Hell, many Israelis haven’t heard of it. But the Mar Saba monastery in the Judaean desert, less than 15 km from Jerusalem, is an incredible sight. Being one of the first monasteries in the history of Christianity, continually occupied for over 1500 years, it’s an important pilgrimage site for Christian Orthodox. For everyone else, it’s a Middle-Eastern citadel straight from the fantasy books. Continue reading “Mar Saba Monastery, Another Middle East Site You Must See Before You Die”

I Want To Love My Country Because It’s Great, Not Because It’s Mine

One could say that I live in a country-free bubble. I don’t really care about Jewish holidays, I don’t observe Jewish traditions, I don’t listen to Israeli music, I don’t watch Israeli TV (or any TV at all for that matter). I have my family, my friends, my job, my volunteering. I watch Game of Thrones, read non-fiction in English and prose in Russian, get most of my news from Facebook, listen to electronic music on the Internet. Almost none of it is connected specifically to Israel. Continue reading “I Want To Love My Country Because It’s Great, Not Because It’s Mine”

Top 4 Media Cliches about the Israeli–Palestinian Conflict

How many times you read media reports about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, hoping to understand something, but always coming up empty-handed? You aren’t alone.

A week ago, the eyes of the media turned to the latest military escalation between Israel and Hamas. Beside the regular reports of the death toll and the reaction of the world, the more serious journalists tried to explain the conflict beyond the current event. Unfortunately, it’s too complex for the casual commentator, so often such analysis has resorted to rehashing of shallow arguments, and “neutral” points of view that neither take sides nor promote any real understanding. So here are the most popular media cliches about the conflict: Continue reading “Top 4 Media Cliches about the Israeli–Palestinian Conflict”

Echoes From My Tribe – Story of Intermarriage In Israel

My parents always wanted me to marry a Jewish woman. So when they found out that I’m getting serious with someone who isn’t Jewish, they were quite upset. I tried to understand their point of view, but was struggling to do so. I knew that their objection wasn’t religious – having lived all their life in atheist Soviet Russia, they are distinctly (but typically of their generation) secular people, and immigration to Israel didn’t really change that. So what was it that made it so difficult for them to accept? Aside from the usual caution we keep for strangers who don’t fit into our familiar world, there was something that disturbed them on a much deeper level. The answer lied in their past. Continue reading “Echoes From My Tribe – Story of Intermarriage In Israel”